In what is believed to be the largest sum ever paid for an FM radio station, Cleveland broadcasting executive Carl E. Hirsch has agreed to buy Los Angeles "beautiful music" station KJOI for $44 million, the station said Thursday.
The price suggests that the recent surge in the value of media properties, prompted in part by federal deregulation of broadcasting, is continuing.
Only 14 months ago, KJOI was purchased by Noble Broadcasting Group for $18.5 million, which was a record price at that time.
Hirsch, former president of Malrite Communications, bought KJOI through a new company called Regency Broadcasting. The purchase requires the approval of the Federal Communications Commission and is expected to close in February.
In its 15 years with an "easy listening" format, radio rating services have consistently placed the station among the five most popular in the city.
Death of Chairman
Noble Chief Executive John Lynch said his company had to sell the station because of the recent death of Ed Noble, the company's chairman and largest shareholder. Lynch said the Noble company now intends to use the proceeds to buy stations in other markets. Noble also owns XTRA-AM and FM in San Diego.
Hirsch said in a prepared statement that he "doesn't contemplate (making) significant changes in the operation or staff." The statement said KJOI General Manager Bob Griffith also will remain.
Although KJOI is Regency's first acquisition, the statement said that Hirsch hopes to acquire other stations and make KJOI the "flagship" of a "major" station group.
Hirsch's former company, Malrite, owns five AM stations, four FM stations and four television stations.
In August, Malrite itself was involved in what was the largest deal ever for a group of radio stations. The company paid $43 million for two Los Angeles country music stations, KXLA-FM and KLAC-AM, and another $32.5 million for KSRR-FM in Houston. Malrite bought the stations from Capital Cities Communications and American Broadcasting Cos.